I am approaching my 1 year anniversary next month and I see why teachers quit. When I came in, there was a registered nurse who had not taught a full year who decided to resign because of the work load compared to the money. She simply made more money for less work working at a hospital. Many people, including myself, explore the area of teaching because of the ‘school hours’. Well, it’s more like industry, self-employment hours. The bad part for our school is that they paid about $10,000 for her to get certified, so it was not incentive enough. It takes a person who is very driven to do the jobs we do. In my county I am the only chef. Although we complain about the drive-ins, conferences etc., those are the places when I search for help from those in my field. Of all of the culinary instructors in our state, I am told only 9 are culinary trained. That is amazing to me. I was looking forward to GATFACS, but due to our school’s lack of funds, we were on our own to go and they were not interested in paying for substitutes. Giving our schools the money for subs and paying for industry/program driven conferences would be a nice touch – professional development at it’s best.
I think the money should also be re-purposed to pay Chefs (and all CTE instructors) a comparable wage to their industry. They should also have courses like NTI to address and learn the things we have. Finding ways to partner the program with businesses for fundraising, support and job shadowing for students would be helpful. Some businesses just don’t seem to have any interest in giving back (or a visible incentive to do so). Also, investing more in an in-depth program for other culinary instructors beyond the 2 week CIA course would give them a greater depth of knowledge of the field. Paying them to do a summer internship with a local catering facility or restaurant so the establishment would not bear the burden financially but provide the insight needed.
It would also not hurt to supply more money for supplies as $4,000 per year for 60 students is not enough to get them work ready with the kind of experience we are wanting to put into the industry. There is nothing more frustrating than not having the funds to produce the results you need to. This is why places like Disney and large hotels draw so much interest. Although they have their budgets, there is nothing they won’t accomplish. I’m not saying we have to be swimming in money to be satisfied (although it would be nice), but we could stand to have better conditions as it relates to being prepared, supplementing our standard way of life (being an educator) and having the supplies we need to effectively do our job. The equipment I have is worth nothing to the students or to me if I don’t have food to cook.